The last London Olympics were nicknamed the Austerity Games, and the parallels between 1948 and 2012 are not lost on the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). They’ve navigated the choppy waters on the approach to the games with aptitude:
- Key sponsorship deals were secured before the financial meltdown,
- Strong ticket sales will ensure good attendance at the games (despite the anger felt by UK ticket buyers),
- The regeneration of Stratford is comprehensive and immediately apparent with news footage showing the progress onsite, and importantly,
- It is running on time and under budget.
This all reflects well on brand UK. Around the world, outside the British tabloid bubble, the message rings loud and clear – the UK’s has got it’s business in order, which at the moment is pretty good news. This message came across resoundingly last week with the celebration events taking place all over the UK’s capital to remind people it’s only a year until the opening ceremony.
The Final Stretch for the 2012 Brand
So far, so good, but there is one thing that nags in the back of the mind that is less concrete than that used in the ahead-of-schedule stadium. The next challenge the 2012 brand faces is extending itself to getting ‘the youth’ involved. This is not an easy task, as a recent survey suggests that around half of the UK’s 11 to 18-year-olds are ambivalent towards the games.
What is required is behaviour change on a massive scale. And due to the stakeholders involved (the British public) behaviour change that has to be evidenced in a meaningful way – numbers of young people signing up is a start, but evidence of repeated activity would be better.
Nike, another brand that reaches back to the Ancients, has made progress in this area with Nike+. 2012 would do well to take a laurel leaf out of Nike’s Macbook – their use of technology to enable people to race each other and connect has been a great success in the contemporary world.
But 2012 will need to take a step further than Nike and identify the exact behaviours they want to change in young people and the motivations for maintaining that behaviour. Only then, from that frame of reference, will 2012 will be able to persuade the youth to commit to a new path. It is a challenge of Olympic proportions (sorry) and if met London 2012 will surely be an absolute success.
What do you think? Do you think the London 2012 brand is helping the UK or not?